If something is critical, make sure you own the real estate. This is a good principle to keep in mind when building a reputation, a business or whatever is important to you on the Internet.
Yes, there are popular platforms, such as YouTube and FaceBook, where you might want to be active. But these sites do not belong to you. You never know when they might shut down (stranger things have happened), change their focus, fall from grace, or decide that you are a spammer or even some minor infraction in the terms of service that you were not even aware of (with no recourse for you to protest).
I was reminded of the importance of owning your own space, when Larry Ludwig had his Bogleheads account terminated. Basically, after 250 posts, 20 of which he referenced articles he had written that were relevant to the discussion, his account was terminated. From model community member to pariah in zero easy steps. All that work – or most of it – down the drain.
Readers with a bit of memory will recall how my account at BlogEngage was terminated, when I was the third top member listed there and had just a few weeks earlier been praised by the owner for how I conducted myself. From model community member to pariah in zero easy steps. I am still guessing that he noticed my free account (grandfathered as an early member) was generating much more success than were the spammer accounts he was selling automated submissions to. So on a whim, I lost all the work I had put into my account and the site as a whole.
These are each individual cases, and they are not specifically instructive to any of our individual activities. But they do provide a combined perspective of the importance of owning space that cannot be summarily deleted.
- Your own domain, not a freebie blog hosting or website service.
- Cloud, OK, but backups, backups, backups.
- Your own hosting service.
- Offline backups of all information.
- Offsite backups.
- Own your own social site or forum if you want to be certain that nobody will give you the boot. Nobody can boot me from Zoomit Canada, for instance.
And now for the latest news, I tried to login to my Diigo account last week, but it was gone – but not for reasons similar to those above. In fact, the whole site was gone, but not because the site was terminated (as was the case with Mixx, Propeller and so many other social sharing sites). I just learned that Diigo’s domain was stolen. That is much like owning a car or cottage, vulnerable to thieves. But it does give us reason to ponder how much trust we should place in the Internet.
You be the judge of what measures you need to take, but whatever measures, take control. You cannot control everything, and if you want to reach large audiences, you need to be all over other people’s property. But make sure that what really counts is on your own real estate – or at least a copy.
Have a story of your own? Feel free to share it in the comments below.
* Featured in the Working At Home Blog Carnival.
Written by David Leonhardt
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